by Fabian Delago 

Countless problems - countless opportunities

We live in a world where we have to deal with problems like global warming, poverty, overpopulation or natural disasters. Measures such as shutting down nuclear power reactors exist to do less damage to the environment; electric cars are made to counteract exhaust emissions; product packaging is made from sustainable materials. Gamers can support this development.

What can be done to make cities more liveable?

Cities are often centres for such problems, because many people live there and are often themselves the cause of them. In order to improve the quality of life in cities and generally protect the environment, the development of bicycle lanes, for example, is necessary. The inhabitants of the cities are thus motivated to travel more often by bicycle than by car, in order to reduce exhaust emissions.

The Digital Twin

One answer to our problems is "digital twins". This is a true-to-scale, virtual representation of a city with its own ecosystem. It simulates buildings, living creatures, weather and other necessary aspects. In this way, possible measures can be simulated in a true-to-life environment in a resource-saving way without having to test them in the real world. This saves time, money and also protects against negative effects if a measure should not work. Furthermore, forecasts and analyses can be made, for example to predict and prevent a disaster.

Helsinki, for example, has already reached the point where the city has been almost completely digitised. This is more than just a faithful reproduction of the original: The aim is to simulate a dynamic and living environment in which the behaviour of air, water, light, pollution and living creatures is mapped. The digital twin is able to simulate wind and its effects, for example.

Ingolstadt is also already busy creating a digital image of the city with the "SAVeNoW" project. This project focuses on autonomous driving and has simulated traffic situations, traffic lights and the like in order to be able to analyse the behaviour of autonomous vehicles. In addition, the digital twin is also intended to improve general traffic safety and efficiency.

Where do the gamers come into play?

The value proposition and the dangers of virtual worlds 

Video games are often viewed with mixed feelings: for some, they are an escape into an alternative world to escape real-life problems or simply to relax after a day at work. Others see the danger of losing themselves in these virtual worlds and thus losing touch with the real world and social environment. 

In Japan, there is even a term for such socially distanced people: Hikikomori. These people do not necessarily live only in video game worlds, but they have withdrawn almost completely into their homes and limit contact with society to a minimum.

Learning in virtual worlds 

Nevertheless, gaming has many positive aspects to offer in a social and economic context. It has been scientifically proven that playing games improves reaction times, coordination skills, coupling abilities, creativity and other characteristics. 

Cognitive learning, for example, has made the sim racer Enzo Bonito to beat racing driver Lucas Di Grassi in a timed race on a real race track.

Minecraft as a teaching tool

 

In the meantime, schools are also increasingly using the game "Minecraft" as a teaching tool. An organisation called "MinecraftEdu"(https://education.minecraft.net/) was even founded to support teachers. The game can be used, for example, to build up maths understanding in a playful way. The tutor Oliver Planner, for example, uses Minecraft to teach area calculation.

Can gaming make the world a better place?

From the gaming industry's point of view, the commercial environmental idea is in any case advantageous. By acting in an environmentally conscious way, the industry's reputation among parents, for example, increases - and so do sales. When children and young people consume environmentally friendly gaming products, this leads to increased environmental awareness among them. The new XBox Series S gaming console from Microsoft, for example, no longer has a CD drive, which leads to fewer CDs sold - which in turn protects the environment from even more plastic waste. Interfaces between the gaming industry and other industries, such as the automotive industry, can also be beneficial for both parties. Racing game developers can benefit from the experience of the car industry and vice versa. This may result in ideas and approaches that can be integrated into the real world.

But not only the gaming industry can contribute to a better world, gamers themselves can also make a difference. 

Knowledge learned in video games can be transferred to the real world.

Knowledge is the only real superpower!

In games like Roblox, SIMS, Animal Crossing, Age of Empires or Minecraft, millions of people deal with the construction and management of virtual worlds under clear conditions every day. In the process, they succeed or fail in their simulation games and simulations - but all players learn one skill: Resilience. They all learn that it is better to do something and experience it than to leave it as it is.

What ideas do gamers develop through the experience of such games and how can these be transferred to the digital twins of real cities? 

With the Force of Disruption, we try to strengthen the dialogue between government agencies, the business community and the games industry in real campaigns and events.  

Experienced gamers, such as eSports players, are familiar with the environment of virtual worlds and often have a high demand for realism in games. Together with their experience from virtual worlds and the motivation to achieve perfection, they form a solid basis to bring about real change. The younger generation can also open up new perspectives with their unbiased creativity. A car, for example, is not as significant for one's own locomotion from a child's point of view as it is for a working adult. Often a completely new perspective on things helps to develop new ideas or solutions to problems.

PWC and Force of Disruption want to launch the project "Future of Mobility" in cooperation with the IAA using Roblox . Pupils, students and companies can participate.

The aim of the project: to implement ideas for the future of mobility in the digital twin and thus make them tangible.

Each participating team can create its own world in Roblox and make the ideas a gamified experience. The best ideas will then be presented at the IAA 2021 and possibly even realized in the real world.

Who wouldn't want to see a new mobility concept in 5 years and say, "Hey, that was my idea!"

Conclusion:

The gaming world is a source of great potential that has hardly been tapped yet. If society realises what opportunities there are and what benefits can be derived from gaming, we could soon be living in a completely different world.